Thursday, 27 November 2014

Slovenia challenge - Jono explores Slovenia in 10 days

Jono Cusack came to Slovenia as The Big Blog Exchange winner. Popotniško združenje Slovenije (Hostelling International Slovenia) made a plan to make sure that Jono sees as much of our beautiful country as possible. Our best people were put to the job to be the tourist guides, drivers, hosts. In this joined effort, Jono got the chance to experience the amazing diversity that is Slovenia. 

Day 1
Jono’s trip to Slovenia began on our little coastline. He got the whole day to sightsee the 3 biggest costal towns: Piran, Izola, Koper. When asked about his thoughts on the coastline and the towns, Jono said: 

„I was blown away at how gorgeous they were. I never expected them to be so beautiful and the cuisine to be so incredible. Being so close to Italy they are able to take on the best parts of Italian culture, such as slow eating and slow living, whilst still remaining uniquely Slovenian. I love being able to explore the different old towns of European cities and I think along the Slovenian coastline there are some of the best. It's fantastic to be able to take a coffee or a beer and watch the city go by.”

Jono was welcomed in YH Alieti in Izola, where he spent his first night. 

Day 2
After breakfast, we took Jono to Ajdovščina, where he enjoyed the punk side of the town:

„Amongst sampling some of the incredible delights from the Vipava Valley with Faladur, I noticed some big changes going on in Ajdovščina. The mayor of the town for over a decade was voted out and replaced with a thirty-two year old guy who was brought up on punk music. In the short time that he has been in office, Ajdovščina has seen an increase in cultural projects that actually hold meaning to a town. Not blatantly wasting money on failing industries, but building a culture which draws people and tourists to a town to start a life. One of these projects was the establishment of the Youth Hostel and Youth Centre at the north end of town. It's the focus point for a growth in music and attendance to live concerts which are now receiving international attention. Acts from across the globe are coming to play in Ajdovščina and to bathe in the town’s punk ethic. It is not just because of one man, but a whole community of leaders in their early thirties. People such as Matej the manager of Youth Hostel Ajdovščina is just one member who has taken it upon himself to build a life there. During the day these leaders work to make this happen, and in the evenings they're all on stage rocking out.”

The trip continued to Škofja Loka and Idrija, where Jono was shown bobbin lace making- the process of making the world famous Idria lace, which Jono had to try doing. As a true man, he accepted the challenge and did quite good. The day ended in Bled, where he stayed in YH Bledec.

Day 3
The third day was dedicated to exploring the jewels of Slovenia, Bled and Bohinj.  In Bled, Mr. Rado from hostel Bledec was kind enough to be Jono’s personal guide and showed him all the beauties that Bled offers. From the natural beauties, to the town and its local community. Jono mentioned Bled in Nina's blog:

»There are no large cities here, just villages of less than ten thousand people. In Bled I found a sense of community that I have never seen throughout my ten years of travel. Everyone would seem to know everyone, there is a connection to land and place like none other. I was shown the town by Rado fromHostel Bledec, each part of it he could draw family links of well over one hundred years to. As an Australian of European descent it’s nearly impossible for me to do the same.«

In Bohinj, Jono was welcomed in the Youth Hostel Pod Voglom, which is the most active hostel. They offer a lot of sport activities, one of which Jono got to do, he rented a bike and saw the beauty of Bohinj and the famous Bohinj Lake on a bike.

Throughout the trip, Jono tried Slovenian cousine. Different local dishes and of course local wine: „I've got to mention Prazen Krompir don't I? There was even a song written about this amazing potato dish! But really the food was fantastic, incredibly fresh and you can taste the flavors of each region. This is something that I loved about Slovenia, despite the fact that it's small, each region has its own type of food. The wine? Magnificent. I need to come back in summer so I can have a lovely white wine in the sun!”

Day 4
The next day Jono got high. 1522 meters above the see level high. A cable car took him from Lake Bohinj to Vogel, the mountain with the biggest ski resort in Slovenia. After that, Jono visited the little town Radlje ob Dravi in the northeast.

Jono slept the night in hostel Marenberg in Radlje ob Dravi and in the 10 days that he stayed in Slovenia, he got a chance to sleep in a different hostel every night.  We asked him how he liked his accommodations:

„The hostels that are attached to the youth centers are incredible. They offer the young people of Slovenia to be able to meet and talk with people from all over the world. It exposes an entire new generation of Slovenians to the world in a way that is all on their terms.”

Day 5
The fifth day held a big challenge for our visitor: to see 4 countries in 1 day.  And it is possible if you have a car. First stop:  Austria, which was just 15 minutes away. Then back to Slovenia to visit a town called Ižakovci, where Jono had the challenge to transport a car across the river Mura with a wooden raft. Rafting is a local attraction for tourists, who wish to experience the local traditions and the old ways of life. Here is a video of an Australian guy operating a wooden raft:

Next stop was a little town in Hungary called Lenti. Then crossing Slovenia, to visit Croatia and try traditional food in Čakovec. The challenge ended with the arrival to Maribor, the second biggest Slovenian town, where Jono stayed in the Youth Hostel Pekarna.

Jono: „It's an incredible experience to be able to say that you've visited four countries in one day. The borders that I passed through were so incredibly diverse that for me personally I would stay as a passing tourist. The major thing is obviously the airport at Maribor. It needs to get more flights in there.”

I invite you to read the January issue of online magazine Globetrotter where I will recap the last days and Jono’s thoughts on Slovenia. 

Until then… here is a video that Jono made for The Big Blog Exchange

Tamara Zorc, Volunteer of Hostelling International Slovenia

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

"What happens in Tresor, stays in Tresor"

We present "frontman" of Hostel Tresor Ljubljana, Gregor. He says smiling and satisfied guests "create" a well informed and experienced staff. The atmosphere in the hostel is very relaxed, which creates many bonds of friendship.

Gregor, you have been working in Hostel Tresor more than a year now. How do you find overall atmosphere here?
“This question automatically makes me older. Good thing that we are open barely one year and a half. The atmosphere in the hostel is much more relaxed and informal than in the hotels where I worked before. Communication is like that as well. Hostel's guests are closer to me in many ways and that's why so many friendships have been created. "

What makes the hostel unique?
“Hostel is already special because it mostly does not reside only guests, but travellers. They do not want to learn only about the tourist attractions of Ljubljana, but they want to meet also local people and of course people from the hostel. They come because of the good reviews and interesting story, which represents the hostel. And memorable stay while you due contacts who stays generated. We strive to offer our guests the most with various travelogues, concerts or with renting longboards. "

Describe yourself in one sentence. 
‘’You're not you when you're hungry.’’ 

You work as a receptionist. Why did you decide for this job? What does this work mean to you?
"Working with people is like constantly working on yourself. I like when guests feel more relaxed or smiling because I receive them on arrival. Or when I give them some advice and then they enthusiastically thank me and shake hand. But to do this you need to know and understand a lot of things. The experience and first-hand information are crucial here. The reception is frontline and eternal challenge. I cannot imagine that I could ever do anything else. "

With which guests do you connect the most?
“Guests at the hostel are usually young at heart, curious and adventurous. Of course you have exceptions, but mostly I understand their thinking and expectations. So the people who come to the hostel quite suit me. Gregor likes you :)”

Could you share with us any interesting anecdote?
“I have plenty of them. I can only say... What happens in Tresor, stays in Tresor. *wink wink*”

Hostel Tresor is a perfect starting point for exploring a green city because it is located in the very centre of Ljubljana, in a former bank building, close to the famous Prešeren Square and the Triple Bridge. Each room is named after one of the world's currencies, and the walls are decorated with quotes of famous people. Breakfast is served in the biggest ‘’safe’’. Hostel Tresor also offers free Wi-Fi and air-conditioned rooms.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The jewel of the upper Savinja valley

Travelling through the beautiful valley of the Savinja River inspires even the most exacting guests, because it offers many different activities. The jewel of the valley, the Municipality of Ljubno, offers many options for various types of guests, tourists visiting the beautiful valley and the municipality.

Author: Uroš Bolko;
Together with tourist workers and providers, we have prepared more than 50 diverse and interesting activities that you can do in Ljubno or in the neighbouring towns. We offer visits to various natural sites of interest, the volcanic area of the Smrekovec mountains, the Savinja River, the Tirske Peči natural monument which is a nesting area for the golden eagle and other beautiful natural sites. 

Author: Jan Zajc;
Among cultural sites, there are churches worth visiting, the Church of St. Francis Xavier being especially interesting since it contains a treasure room of maniples from the mid-18th century, one of which was donated by the empress Maria Theresa. Of further interest is also the Raftsmen Collection which is unique in this region, because this economic activity - the transportation and cutting of wood - was an important source of income for our ancestors.

Author: Matjaž Štefan;
In the municipality, we are also very proud of delicious local cuisine on offer from our service providers in tourism, everything from the Upper Savinja Valley Želodec (an air-dried meat product), homemade cheese, ajdnek (folded cake) and other delicacies.

There are plenty of sports activities on offer, since the town and the municipality present an ideal possibility for various preparations and training of top athletes and at the same time also ideal for recreational enthusiasts. A large selection of hiking trails, fishing in the Savinja River, a football field, a sports hall, a ski jumping centre and many other options are available.

There are over 200 beds available in our town. One of the options for accommodation is also our Hostel Ljubno ob Savinji where the Pevc-Pukart family will be happy to welcome you and help you spend an active vacation in our municipality and the surrounding area.


Turistično informacijski center Ljubno ob Savinji
Cesta v Rastke 12
3333 Ljubno ob Savinji
Tel: 03/839 17 83

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Slovenj Gradec peace messenger city

Slovenj Gradec is the cultural and economic centre of the Mislinja valley. With its number of inhabitants it is a small town, but when you take into account its creative tradition and institutions, its importance extends over many borders. Numerous exhibitions in the art gallery and events (some of them under the aegis of the UN) have brought the town closer to its foreign neighbours, and that is how in 1989 Slovenj Gradec got the distinguished title of the Peace messenger City.

The historical image of Slovenj Gradec and its surrounding area stretches back to pre-historic times. This may be traced in the remains of Illyrian and Celtic settlement called Colatio. The medieval town was (like the other oldest Slovene towns) founded in the 13th century. It has survived centuries of turmoil but the town folk (most often artisans and merchants) together with foreign and native masters and artists, have managed to care for the image of the town. The old town centre has remained the focus of cultural and social life right up to the present day.

Slovenj Gradec has always been and remains rooted within its historical and cultural tradition. The most important artistic monuments in the town are to be found in the Gothic church of the Holy Spirit and in the church of St. Elizabeth. In the nearby surroundings there are quite a few cultural and historical monuments whose particular characteristics resonate in a wider cultural context. The most important are the church of St. Georg at Legen, the ruins of Vodriž castle and the church of St. Pancras above Stari Trg (the Old Square). There are also some sites of ethnological interest that have been preserved, and among them we find many “kozolci” (characteristic Slovene hayricks), old peasant houses, chapels and, here and there, a few old watermills and sawmills.

We find in Slovenj Gradec and its surrounding area the birthplaces and places of creativity of numerous important people:
- Mateuz Cerdonis – one of the last European printers of the “Incunabula”;
- baroque painters Strauss;
- the composer Hugo Wolf;
- the poet Ernst Goll;
- the sculptor Franc Berneker;
- the writers Franc Ksaver Meško and Ljuba Prennerjeva;
- the painter Jože Tisnikar.

Slovenj Gradec – today…
Many famous artists continue that artistic tradition even today (Karel Pečko, Bogdan Borčič and many others). Traditional artisan work has also been handed down to contemporary masters, working from their home.

As well as what is offered by the hotel and a youth hostel in the town, any guest has the chance to stay at one of the several farms that offer hospitality in the more outlying parts of the Mislinja valley, and to sample the local cuisine in nearby inns. 

The town and surrounding area offer many different opportunities for recreation:
- sports centre of Vinko Cajnko;
- skiing on Kope;
- horse riding;
- biking;
- gliding;
- Mountaineering.

The many diverse environments to be found around Uršlja gora and Pohorje offer the ramble peace and its simple charms. The valley has many paths and secrets and it is worth discovering.

Partizanski dom Kope
The Partizanski dom mountain lodge is located at the foot of Mala Kopa and offers breath taking views over the Mislinja Valley and Drava Valley just nearby. If you climb a little higher, you will be enraptured by the Drava Valley and the slopes of Austria. The mountain lodge is located next to the ski slope, only 80m from the Kaštivnik four-person chairlift.

The Partizanski dom mountain lodge can be accessed by an 18km long road from Slovenj Gradec or by the Kaštivnik four-person chairlift from Vuzenica.

A large outdoor terrace and excellent cuisine welcome all tourists and skiers.

In summer time Pohorje invites hikers and bikers to pick blueberries or mushrooms. On “Velike Kope” was found 13 energetic points, which affects beneficently on our well-being and health and helps our body with connecting with universal space energy.

Hostel Slovenj Gradec
Hostel Slovenj Gradec is located on the left bank of Suhadolnica river, in a quiet part Ozare under Rahtel.

Hostel Slovenj Gradec is a part of the Youth Cultural Center Slovenj Gradec. It was built in 2011.The hostel offers accommodation in modern single-, double-, fourbed rooms and four suites. Suites offers accommodation for three, four of eight persons with a fully equipped kitchen. One of the suites is designed to accommodate disabled quests.

All rooms and suites have their own bathrooms. Access is possible by stairs or elevator. The quests can also use the breakfast room with fully equipped kitchen, laundry room, Wi-Fi access in all rooms, internet area and a free parking space. Next to the internet area is a Caffe bar, where quests can socialize, sit on the sunny terrace or spend a pleasant evening hours.

Hostel offers also two conference rooms for rental. Smaller room can receive up to 60 visitors and a bigger room up to 250 visitors. Both conference rooms are equipped with the latest audio technology and allow organization of different events.

Invitation for a trip – Adrenalin Adventure
Arrival in Slovenj Gradec, greetings from tourist guide and view of the town centre of Slovenj Gradec, which has remained its medieval concept (the church of St. Elizabeth and the church of the Holy Spirit, Carinthian Gallery of Fine Arts and the Carinthian Regional Museum).

- Stop for a coffee in one of the cafes in the city centre;
- drive to Legen and tour of the church St. George, where they are under the glass bottom remains of Slavic graves from the 10th century;
- a brief hike to Herc Mill, tour of the Mill and Sawmill, display of the ancient crafts and the tasting local delicacies in one of the organic farms;
- drive to the Aerodrome Slovenj Gradec, where excursionists can decide for a parachute jump or fly with a smaller plane;
- Culinary delights and return home.

Invitation for a trip – Forests Of Pohorje
Arrival to Kope with welcome drink on Partizanski dom mountain lodge, classical breakfast of Pohorje.

- Hike through the forest to energetic points (Vortices of life);
- arrival to Pungart: playing disc golf or a brief hike to Črni vrh or Ribniška Jezera;
- after returning – picnic in nature.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Hostel Pod Vogel won the first place ...

Favourable news from Hostel Pod Voglom, Bohinj, Slovenia. Despite the bad weather there were many visitors from near and far and each year the season is slightly extended. We still host a lot of school groups from Slovenia and abroad, who have numerous options to spend their extracurricular activities. 

We are very happy about the new roof on the hostel that gave us all renewed strength for the future. We have arranged a new bicycle hub, so there is space for two new catering tables, which in the case of events becomes the stage. We hosted several music groups this summer: Čao Portorož, Veronika Kumar & the band and D'Plagiators. We also hosted two big events: "TNatura ETU Triathlon European Cup Cross" and almost traditional Ecoavantura. Hostel’s garden is adorned with photo exhibition “Julian Alps 360°”. For the first time we hosted the Erasmus students who are on a student exchange in Slovenia. In collaboration with the Library of Anton Tomaz Linhart we arranged »Books on holiday" for lazy day at the hostel. 

For promotion of our Hostel Pod Voglom and activities Pac Sports we use social networks and advertising through various fairs. As business representatives we were present at the workshops in Prague, Warsaw and in Goriška Brda, where we introduced Bohinj‘s diverse offer. However, we believe we would need to invest more effort into PR. 

The big news is: Hostel pod Voglom won first prize in the category of Youth Hostels in Slovenia. This was confirmation of our work and incentive for further work .The reward was presented from Tourist Association Slovenia’s campaign “My Country - Beautiful and hospitable”. The project involved around 600 tourist associations and is becoming an all-Slovene movement of regulated environment and hospitality, which in its own way reveals the breadth and substantive meaning of the slogan Tourism are the people. The keynote speaker at the closing ceremony, held on 14.10.2014 in Portorož, was President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor. 

Tourism and hospitality Chamber of Slovenia presented us with two more awards: for the development of sports tourism in Bohinj and for the development of youth tourism in Bohinj. 

Nada Odar